Coach Tom Morehouse on one’s to watch this weekend

Date: 16th April 2019

Two highly rated athletes for the Stawell Gift Men’s Open are teammates Dhruv Rodrigues Chico and Aaron Leferink who both train under Tom Morehouse at Sandringham Athletics Club.  Dhruv won the Hastings Gift and the 70m at Bendigo and Aaron took out the Rye Gift this season.

Asked what the Stawell Gift means and Aaron was quick to answer: “It’s the biggest pro race in Australia and I’m excited to run against some of our country’s best sprinters.” 

On the subject of who will be the ones to beat this year: “I think Jara Konteh is going to be really hard to beat,” said Aaron. 

First timer Dhruv “Cheeky” Chico said: I’ve had several close battles with Jason Bailey over 70m this season, so I think he’ll be one to look out for.”

According to coach Tom Morehouse there were no great surprises amongst the Men’s Gift marks. “This is the fourth year of the Stawell bonus lift system for gift winners during the season and it‘s proven to be very effective at making the process transparent, and it allows better comparison between winners.

“I’m happy with the marks that Aaron and Dhruv have received. They’re both moving well at training and I think they’ll be competitive on Easter Monday. Exactly how fast will depend on their race execution as much as it does on the other competitors. Dhruv tends to be a faster starter whereas Aaron has better endurance and late race speed. They’re both hyper competitive when it comes to race time, but they have a very positive training relationship and work well off each other.

“For the Men’s gift, I think Konteh, Bailey and Jayden Gilfillan (from Queensland) are favourites. Konteh is an excellent 200 runner and is moving very well. Bailey has won multiple short sprints this season and has dramatically improved his start. Gilfillan has been a favourite in the past and has the mark to be very competitive. Also worth a look are Daniel Sonsini, and a couple of the other Vikings athletes, Murdoch Finch and Kieran Gordon, who have been very successful at the recent Australian Surf Lifesaving Championships. 

“I think the Women’s Gift will be between Fia Fighera, Lexi Loizou and Zoe Neale. Matt Carter has done an excellent job in his coaching of Fighera and Loizou; they’ve both improved significantly across the Gift distance and had success over 400m at the Victorian Championships. Neale has had a very careful development under Shane McKenzie and looks primed for a big one.”

And if you are curious about Dhruv’s exotic name, he was born in Goa, India, which was a Portuguese colony, so the name is of Portuguese origin. Dhruv lived in New Zealand from the age of two, before moving to Australia aged 10.


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